By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
A bus carrying the WHL’s Everett Silvertips narrowly avoided becoming involved in a multi-vehicle accident on the Coquihalla Highway early Thursday morning.
“We’re just very thankful that the driver did a great job of avoiding the accident,” Silvertips general manager Doug Soetaert said Thursday afternoon. “He threw it into the left-hand median at the last minute.”
The driver had the bus in the right-hand lane just moments before having to take evasive action. Realizing the situation, Soetaert said, the driver cut across the left-hand lane and the bus ended up with its nose in a snowbank on the median.
Soetaert wasn’t on the bus. He stayed in Kamloops after watching his club score a 3-2 victory over the Blazers at Interior Savings Centre on Wednesday night. He received a text message from head coach Craig Hartsburg at 12:30 a.m., saying the bus had left the road.
“Our bus did go off the road,” Soetaert said, “but it was able to back out after. It avoided a collision.
“Nobody was hurt and the bus is fine. Thank God. It was close, I guess, because they were just sliding. It was all ice and snow and freezing rain. They couldn’t stop so he put it into the left-hand median.
“They’re very lucky . . . very lucky.”
Later Thursday, Soetaert was able to look at some photographs from the scene.
“It was quite a mess,” he said. “They were, I don’t know, 25 feet away from hitting a semi when he put it in the snowbank.”
Referees Trevor Hanson and Jeff Ingram had worked the game in Kamloops and found themselves in front of the Everett bus as it approached the accident scene.
“They were narrowly missed by a semi,” Soetaert said. “They ended up sitting on our bus with our team until the highway was cleared and all the emergency vehicles were gone.”
The Silvertips arrived back in Everett at 6 a.m. Under normal conditions, Soetaert said, they would arrive home about 2:30 a.m.
“They had two and a half hours sitting there until everything was pushed out of their way and cleared up so that they could continue on,” he said. “They eventually backed the bus out of the snowbank and continued on their way.”
Soetaert made the drive back to Everett yesterday morning, passing the wreckage on his way over the Coq.
“We went by and the semis were all lined up on the side of the road, on the right-hand side on the shoulder,” he said. “They’re all smashed in and their boxes are broken. There was lumber all over the place.”
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